265 episodes

Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. A podcast from The American Scholar magazine. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.
Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

Smarty Pants The American Scholar

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.4 • 111 Ratings

Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. A podcast from The American Scholar magazine. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.
Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    #265: The Promised Land of the Pampas

    #265: The Promised Land of the Pampas

    In 1889, a group of Jewish families fleeing Russian pogroms arrived in Argentina, hoping for a new life—or at least a safe place to reside for a while before making their way to Israel. Moisés Ville, the town they founded, some 400 miles from Buenos Aires, was one of the first Jewish agricultural communities in Argentina and over the next 50 years would come to be called the “Jerusalem of South America,” replete with theaters, libraries, and two synagogues. But this sunny story of life in the new world has a dark underside, as Argentinian journalist Javier Sinay learned one day, upon reading a 1947 Yiddish newspaper article written by his own great-grandfather. The article detailed 22 murders of Jewish colonists in swift succession, all in the last decade of the 19th century. Why these people were killed—and what it says about the complex history of this once grand town—is the subject of Sinay’s new book, The Murders of Moisés Ville, translated from the Spanish by Robert Croll. Sinay joins us to talk about how a story from 100 years ago changed the way he saw his country, and his own relationship to Judaism.
    Go beyond the episode: 
    Javier Sinay’s new book, The Murders of Moisés VilleIt’s never too late to connect with the language of your ancestors, as Phyllis Rose writes in “My Mother’s Yiddish”Journey further afield into the driving forces of Latin America in our interview with Marie AranaView historical images from Moisés Ville on our website
    Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek. Follow us on Twitter @TheAmScho or on Facebook.
    Subscribe: iTunes • Feedburner • Stitcher • Google Play • Acast
    Have suggestions for projects you’d like us to catch up on, or writers you want to hear from? Send us a note: podcast [at] theamericanscholar [dot] org. And rate us on iTunes! Our theme music was composed by Nathan Prillaman.

    Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    • 22 min
    #264: Medieval Madams

    #264: Medieval Madams

    The codices and manuscripts of the Middle Ages are littered with the acts of kings and the edicts of bishops, full of tales of knightly romance and monkish devotions. Read between the lines, though, and you’ll find the women who made the medieval world run: bookkeepers and brewers, weavers and wine merchants, serfs and sex workers. They never got credit for it, and even their first names are often obscured by those of their husbands and fathers, but their lives were much richer and more varied than we have been led to expect. Eleanor Janega, who teaches medieval and early modern history at the London School of Economics, devotes her new book, The Once and Future Sex, to these ordinary and extraordinary women. Her analysis of the ways in which their lives were circumscribed shows how radically gender norms have changed—though not always improved—since the so-called dark ages.
    Go beyond the episode:
    Eleanor Janega’s The Once and Future Sex: Going Medieval on Women’s Roles in SocietyOn her blog, Going Medieval, read Janega’s take “On beer, or, why chicks rock” or peruse the index of medieval subjectsJanega’s podcast about the Middle Ages, “We’re Not So Different” considers “how we’ve always been idiots”Smarty Pants has gone medieval itself: in this interview with Mary Wellesley about the ordinary lives in manuscripts, or this conversation with Jack Hartnell about physicality and the bodyWe also love The London Review of Books’s podcast miniseries, “Close Readings: Encounters with Medieval Women,” hosted by Wellesley and Irina Dumitrescu
    Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.
    Subscribe: iTunes • Stitcher • Google Play • Acast
    Have suggestions for projects you’d like us to catch up on, or writers you want to hear from? Send us a note: podcast [at] theamericanscholar [dot] org. And rate us on iTunes! Our theme music was composed by Nathan Prillaman.

    Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    • 30 min
    #263: The Sensual Sargent

    #263: The Sensual Sargent

    John Singer Sargent is often thought of as a quintessentially American painter. Born in Florence in 1856, he shuttled across the Atlantic, painting society divas and wealthy eccentrics, Venetian gondoliers and Spanish dancers, imbuing each of his canvases with a sense of life and movement beyond the frame. But in his new biography of the artist, The Grand Affair, Paul Fisher, a professor of American studies at Wellesley College, delves into the hidden half of Sargent’s life—the portraits of male models and the romantic friendships with men that he kept hidden. Fisher joins Smarty Pants to discuss what Sargent has to offer the contemporary art lover, and how our understanding of his work changed in the intervening century.
     
    Go beyond the episode:
    Paul Fisher’s The Grand Affair: John Singer Sargent in His WorldExplore “Boston’s Apollo,” the 2020 exhibition at the Isabel Stewart Gardner Museum devoted to Sargent’s late-life muse and model, Thomas McKellerThe National Gallery of Art’s “Sargent and Spain” exhibition is sadly past, but you can explore selected works onlineVisit our website for a selection of the art discussed in this episode
    Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.
    Subscribe: iTunes • Stitcher • Google Play • Acast
    Have suggestions for projects you’d like us to catch up on, or writers you want to hear from? Send us a note: podcast [at] theamericanscholar [dot] org. And rate us on iTunes! Our theme music was composed by Nathan Prillaman.


    Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    • 27 min
    #262: Lost in Smog

    #262: Lost in Smog

    In 2018, the novelist and poet Perhat Tursun disappeared into a Uyghur detention center somewhere in Xinjiang, China, where he is now serving a 16-year prison sentence for an unspecified offense. Between one and three million Uyghurs, including a number of academics, writers, and cultural figures, have been arrested by the Chinese government on similarly spurious or entirely opaque grounds. Tursun is the author of, among other works,The Backstreets, which never found a publisher in his homeland despite the success of his previous books. This extraordinary novel follows an unnamed narrator, who has left his rural village for a temporary office job in Urumqi, as he wanders through the night, the city smog, and his memories. The book was recently published in English, translated by the anthropologist Darren Byler and an anonymous co-translator, who was last seen in 2017 and is also presumed to be in a Chinese detention center. Byler, an assistant professor of international studies at Simon Fraser University and the author of Terror Capitalism: Uyghur Dispossession and Masculinity in a Chinese City, joins us to talk about Tursun and his mesmerizing work.
    Go beyond the episode:
    Perhat Tursun’s The Backstreets: A Novel from Xinjiang, translated by Darren Byler and anonymousDarren Byler’s Terror Capitalism: Uyghur Dispossession and Masculinity in a Chinese CityRead more about Tursun’s poem “Elegy,” translated by Joshua FreemanThe poet Tahir Hamut Izgil, one of Tursun’s closest friends, wrote about the crisis in his homeland for The Atlantic: “One by One, My Friends Were Sent to the Camps”
    Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.
    Subscribe: iTunes • Stitcher • Google Play • Acast
    Have suggestions for projects you’d like us to catch up on, or writers you want to hear from? Send us a note: podcast [at] theamericanscholar [dot] org. And rate us on iTunes! Our theme music was composed by Nathan Prillaman.

    Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    • 29 min
    #261: Santa’s Slay Bells

    #261: Santa’s Slay Bells

    For all the glühwein and good cheer, mid-December also marks the darkest part of the year, when families around the world gather to watch their favorite holiday ghost story: A Christmas Carol. Easily the most famous spooky Yuletide movie, it is by no means the only one: Black Christmas was arguably the first American slasher movie; the mischievous creatures from Gremlins squealed their way into many hearts in 1984; and the Alpine Krampus has more credits to his name than Santa has reindeer. For generations, the heart of winter—not Halloween—was when we told unsettling stories around the fire, whether they featured the ghosts of our own pasts or Gryla the Icelandic ogre and her evil Yule cat. This week on Smarty Pants, writer and director Kier-La Janisse offers a primer on how these stories have found their way onto the screen, from annual BBC television specials to big-budget Hollywood bloodbaths.
    Go beyond the episode:
    Kier-La Janisse’s Yuletide Terror, co-edited with Paul Corupe, is out of print, but her House of Psychotic Women, an “autobiographical topography of female neurosis in horror and exploitation films” was just released in an expanded editionJanisse’s documentary Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched is a thorough history of folk horror, which makes its way to the holidays with movies like Krampus (2015) and Rare Exports (2010), and wintry tales like Marketa Lazarová (1967), The White Reindeer (1952), Hagazussa (2017), and November (2017)You can watch the newest episode of the BBC’s anthology series A Ghost Story for Christmas on Britbox. Discussed in this episode: The Stalls of Barchester (1971) and A Warning to the Curious (1972), both based on M. R. James stories of the same name, and Stigma (1977)Visit our website for a full list of links and trailers
    Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.
    Subscribe: iTunes • Stitcher • Google Play
    Have suggestions for projects you’d like us to catch up on, or writers you want to hear from? Send us a note: podcast [at] theamericanscholar [dot] org. And rate us on iTunes! Our theme music was composed by Nathan Prillaman.


    Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    • 29 min
    #260: By Land and By Sea

    #260: By Land and By Sea

    The line between land and water can take on so many moods: romance, danger, playfulness, despair; calm, or the storm that follows. In her first collection of nonfiction, A Line in the World, the Danish writer Dorthe Nors spends a year traversing the North Sea Coast, from where it meets the Baltic at Skagen, across the King River, and down to the nebulous Wadden Sea and Amsterdam. She describes her own life on the water, as well as the lives of others from the near and distant past. The Jutish ship that got stranded on the Vedersø dunes, spilling its cargo of tulips to bloom the next spring and leaving its captain to wed a local girl. The now-extinct matriarchy of Sønderho on the Island of Fanø, where women ran the village while waiting for their husbands to return from sea—or not. The empty space where Skarre Cliff used to jut into the water, and her father’s expression as he watched it collapse on television in 1978. In these 14 essays, Nors invites us into an inner landscape that can be as changeable as the borderlands she describes.
    Go beyond the episode:
    Dorthe Nors’s A Line in the World: A Year on the North Sea CoastOur introduction to her work was the darkly comic novel Mirror, Shoulder, Signal, shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2017Watch the traditional dance of Sønderho described in the book—and then learn the stepsTirpitz, the largest of the Nazi bunkers abandoned on the North Sea Coast has been turned into a museum
    Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.
    Subscribe: iTunes • Stitcher • Google Play • Acast
    Have suggestions for projects you’d like us to catch up on, or writers you want to hear from? Send us a note: podcast [at] theamericanscholar [dot] org. And rate us on iTunes! Our theme music was composed by Nathan Prillaman.

    Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    • 27 min

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5
111 Ratings

111 Ratings

veccb ,

Always Learn Something New

This podcast has exposed me to a wealth of topics. It’s a nice treat to learn something completely new each time and learn about topics I have never been exposed to before.

foesmck ,

One of the best

One of my favorite podcasts. Thanks for your hard work!

cincysport ,

Difficult to listen to.

Can’t understand much of what the host is saying because of vocal fry. So distracting.

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